Los Angeles (56-56) at St. Louis (63-52)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 8:15 pm EDT Wed Aug 6, 2008
  • TV: KCAL, FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Ryan Ludwick continues to be a big reason why the St. Louis Cardinals are in the thick of the NL playoff race.

After leading his team to a dramatic victory in the series opener, the All-Star right fielder looks to help the Cardinals to a second straight home win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Ludwick’s two-run homer in the 11th inning gave St. Louis (63-52) a 6-4 victory Tuesday as the Cardinals overcame their major-league leading 27th blown save and avoided a third straight defeat.

“We’ve had some heartbreaking losses,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We’ll see in the next few days how much it means to us.”

It was the third career game-winning homer for Ludwick, the reigning NL player of the week who’s batting .469 (15-for-32) with five homers and 10 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.

“I’m just trying to get good pitches to hit and drive them,” said Ludwick, batting .303 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs during his breakout season. “I’m just glad I could contribute a little bit.”

Ludwick’s dramatic homer Tuesday overshadowed the fact that the Dodgers (56-56) scored four runs in the ninth off relievers Jason Isringhausen and Ryan Franklin. The Cardinals managed to remain one-half game behind Milwaukee in the wild-card race and 5 1/2 back of NL Central-leading Chicago.

Adam Kennedy had three hits while Albert Pujols snapped an 0-for-13 slump and had a two-run home run to raise his average to .313 (5-for-16) against Los Angeles this season.

After a second straight encouraging start from Chris Carpenter on Tuesday, St. Louis hopes Joel Pineiro (3-5, 5.04 ERA) can bounce back from his recent struggles Wednesday.

Pineiro gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 9-4 loss at Atlanta on Thursday. Over his last four starts, the right-hander is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA while allowing 10 hits in each contest.

“He makes good pitches and gets good hitters out, and then he makes mistakes,” La Russa said.

In his only previous start versus the Dodgers, Pineiro allowed three earned runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-4 defeat to Los Angeles on June 20, 2006 while with Seattle.

Los Angeles will counter with Derek Lowe (8-9, 3.70), who gave up two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 2-1 loss to Brandon Webb and Arizona on Thursday - his first defeat since June 29.

“I take responsibility for the loss,” Lowe told the Dodgers’ official Web site after failing to hold a 1-0 lead.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA in his last five outings, but 1-5 with a 5.24 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals. He gave up two runs in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on May 23.

Jeff Kent had two hits and an RBI on Tuesday and Manny Ramirez went 2-for-3 for the Dodgers, who had won their last two games to gain a split of a four-game set with the NL West-leading Diamondbacks. Los Angeles trails Arizona by three games.

Ramirez is 10-for-16 with two homers, five runs and five RBIs in four games since being acquired from Boston last week. He’s hitting .423 (11-for-26) with three home runs and five RBIs versus Pineiro.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Lowe Tex vs. J. Piñeiro Phi
14-11 Record 7-7
3.24 ERA 5.15
147 K 81
45 BB 35
1.13 WHIP 1.45

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Aug 6